DETROIT
07/19/2013 10:37 am ET

Dan Gilbert On Detroit Bankruptcy: 'We Do Not Have A Choice,' The City Will 'Reinvent' Itself

On the day Detroit filed for bankruptcy, at least one businessman was still putting his faith -- and potentially millions of dollars -- in the city.

On Thursday morning, just hours before the city filed for protection under Chapter 9, Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert put in a bid for an undisclosed amount to buy an unfinished jail, the Detroit News reports. Widely considered a boondoggle, Wayne County has thrown $120 million into developing the site east of downtown before putting out a request for proposals.

But Gilbert is used to taking big bets in Detroit, where he's scooped up 22 buildings and many more storefronts and parking garages in the last few years. On Thursday, he said the city's bankruptcy filing "is the first step toward a better and brighter tomorrow for our city."

"Bankruptcy will be painful for many individuals and organizations but together we will get through it and come out stronger on the other side. We simply do not have a choice," he said. "Detroit will thrive again as well and sooner than most think."

The jailhouse bid from Rock Ventures includes two other nearby jails, a juvenile detention center and the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and envisions a mixed-use development focusing on entertainment, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

Urban planner Rob Linn of Data Driven Detroit told The Huffington Post earlier that redeveloping the property was wise from the city's point of view as well.

"If and when those properties were developed, they would be worth much, much more," he said. "By building a jail on such real estate, you're denying the city tax revenue from some of area's best real estate."

Earlier this year, Gilbert laid out a plan for a downtown Detroit that sounds like a pedestrian paradise (including a new beach in Campus Martius, open-air markets, extensive retail options and lots of benches and green space). It sounds ambitious, or even hubristic, to attempt to transform the entire downtown of a major city, one that may be selling off its assets in the near future to satisfy creditors.

But with nearly 7.5 million square feet, Rock Ventures' properties already make up a sizable chunk of downtown, and Gilbert has continued to express confidence in the future of the city -- and in a city that will not just be better for residents, but for businesses, and businessmen like himself.

"Just as the auto companies reinvented the way they do business so will the city of Detroit," he said. "Once our financial challenges are behind us the city, region and state will have a clean slate to operate with a philosophy and strategy that works for its citizens, businesses and the entire community."

Read Dan Gilbert's full statement on Thursday's bankruptcy filing below.

Today’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy declaration by the City of Detroit is the first step toward a better and brighter tomorrow for our city. The financial condition the city finds itself in is years, if not decades, in the making. Bankruptcy will be painful for many individuals and organizations but together we will get through it and come out stronger on the other side. We simply do not have a choice.

It’s important that we ignore the noise that this filing will surely bring. Many forecasted the end for GM and Chrysler when they declared bankruptcy just a short few years ago. Today, GM and Chrysler are thriving. Detroit will thrive again as well and sooner than most think.

Just as the auto companies reinvented the way they do business so will the city of Detroit. Once our financial challenges are behind us the city, region and state will have a clean slate to operate with a philosophy and strategy that works for its citizens, businesses and the entire community.

We are all in. We are more committed than ever to Detroit and the opportunities downtown. Detroit’s best days are ahead.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

PHOTO GALLERY
HuffPost
BEFORE YOU GO
Dan Gilbert's Detroit Investments In 2012
PHOTO GALLERY
Dan Gilbert's Detroit Investments In 2012

CONVERSATIONS